LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers fell behind early, and the offense couldn't do enough to dig out of the hole, falling to the Mets 4-2 in the opener of their four-game series on Monday night at Dodger Stadium.
Before the game, manager Dave Roberts said the Mets were the most formidable rotation the Dodgers have faced this season, and he was right.
"They've got big arms, all the way one through four," Roberts said. "It's going to be low scoring. We talked about having good at-bats as a collective unit."
It was low scoring especially on one side on Monday, anyway. The Dodgers collected all of six hits and two runs on Monday night.
Scott Kazmir allowed single runs in the first, second and third innings, and it could have been a lot worse. He was helped by a fantastic diving catch by Yasiel Puig in the second inning, then in the third inning Kiké Hernandez threw out Curtis Granderson trying for second base on his leadoff single to left field.
Then with the bases loaded and one out in the third, Hernandez made a fine running catch in left field, and alertly doubled off Yoenis Cespedes at second base, for the rare two outfield assists in one inning.
But even after all that, Kazmir was able to settle down. In the tradition of fellow frustrating and homer-prone veteran lefties Randy Wolf and Ted Lilly before him, Kazmir nearly made it to a quality start, inducing a ground ball that would have ended the sixth, only to have Howie Kendrick drop the ball as he tried to make the throw.
Steven Matz immediately cashed in the gift, doubling down the third base line to put the Mets up 4-2, ending Kazmir's night.
But it was on the mound where Matz was the most effective, striking out five in his six innings. The only runs against Matz came in the fourth inning, when Justin Turner singled and then with two outs Trayce Thompson drove a fly ball to right field that carried into the seats over the short wall in right field near the visitors bullpen.
The Dodgers got their own gift in the eighth inning in the form of a dropped fly ball in center field by Juan Lagares, and after a walk by Turner had the tying runs on base with one out. But reliever Jim Henderson struck out Puig and got Thompson to pop out in foul territory to end the threat.
The Dodgers didn't have a hit after the fourth inning.
The long ball
Kazmir in his seven starts has now allowed nine home runs, tied for most in the majors with Kendall Graveman, Jeremy Hellickson, Max Scherzer and Colby Lewis.
The two hit on Monday were by Granderson in the first inning, his 37th career leadoff home run, and by catcher Kevin Plawecki in the second inning. The Mets lead the National League with 49 home runs, four more than the second-place Diamondbacks.
Hernandez certainly isn't the only Dodger slumping, but he was 0-for-4 on Monday night. He is now in a 2-for-38 (.053) slump dating back to Apr. 16, though with seven walks during that span, too.
He has started against every left-handed pitcher the Dodgers have faced this season, and rightfully so. Hernandez hit .423/.471/.744 against southpaws in 2015, and entered Monday night .308/.438/.615 against lefties.
But after starting the season 8-for-11 (.727) with two doubles and two home runs against left-handed pitching, Hernandez is 0 for his last 18, including 0-for-3 against Matz on Monday.
Charlie Culberson got the start at shortstop and went 2-for-2 and also made a great play on a ground ball to rob Cespedes of a hit in the seventh. Culberson has three muti-hit games in seven starts this season.
Home runs: Trayce Thompson (3); Curtis Granderson (6), Kevin Plawecki (1)
WP - Steven Matz (5-1): 6 IP, 6 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts
LP - Scott Kazmir (2-3): 5⅔ IP, 6 hits, 4 runs (3 earned), 4 walks, 6 strikeouts
Sv - Jeurys Familia (11): 1 IP, 1 strikeout